Cooking Terms & Techniques

Cooking Terms & Techniques

  • Bouillon

    Similar to stock, but meat is simmered in water, rather than bones and seasoning is traditionally more robust. Makes a clear broth that can be used as the base for soups – or drunk on its own.

  • Caramelization

    Heating substances with carbohydrates slowly up to 300°F on the stove top, which causes substances such as sugar or onions to turn brown, syrupy and slightly thickened.

French Cooking Terms

  • Allemande

    If you see a sauce designated as “Allemande”, it will most likely contain veal stock, cream and egg yolk (as well as lemon juice).

  • Au gratin

    Most people think this means “with cheese” – but in the culinary world, it is used to signify a topping of breadcrumbs, butter and grated, fresh cheeses.

  • Au jus

    Meat roasted and served in its own juices, with no other moisture added.

  • Au tour

    “All around”. Sauce is poured round a dish; not all over it.

  • Bain-marie

    A container of hot water into which you insert and cook food that you don’t want to curdle. (The principle is similar to double boiling.)

  • Béarnaise

    A light hollandaise sauce variation, flavored with tarragon, and meant to be served with roasted meats.

  • Béchamel

    Basic white sauce made from a roux (butter and flour bubbled over a low heat till slightly browned) and milk. Many cream sauces start with a béchamel.

  • Bisque

    A hearty soup, usually fish – but when the term is applied to desserts, it refers to a macaroon/ice cream mixture.

  • Blanch

    Immersing fresh vegetables very briefly in water that has been brought to a rolling boil.  (Stop the cooking process by straining them and cooling them briefly under ice-cold, running water.) Keeps crispness for salads without the vegetable being bitter or indigestible; and retains/enhances color.

  • Bordelaise

    A brown gravy containing shallots and red wine.

  • Bouillabaisse

    French fish stew or soup.

  • Bouquet Garni

    Fresh parsley, thyme, celery and a bay leaf wrapped in layers of leek and tied with string into a firm parcel. One end of the string is often kept long, as your bouquet garni is inserted into pots of stock (water plus meat bones), and removed at the end of cooking.

  • Canapé

    Finger-food appetizer served with drinks, before people sit down at the table and while they mingle

  • Chiffonade

    A way of feathering leafy vegetables for decoration.

  • Chinois

    Inverted-cone-shaped, fine metal strainer for stocks, sauces and soups.  Usually hangs on chains. (With sauces, it is meant for ensuring lumps are strained out and often a pestle is used to work these through the mesh.)

  • Choux

    A rich pastry made of eggs, butter, flour and water or milk. Most often used for cream puffs, profiteroles and other light, airy desserts.

  • Concassé

    Coarsely-chopped vegetables in chunks.

  • Consommé

    Clear meat broth.

  • Coulis

    Finely puréed fruit, resulting in a thin, smooth syrup or sauce.

  • Crepe

    Very thin pancake, usually rolled around a sweet or savory filling.

  • Croustade

    A loaf or bun that has been hollowed out and lightly toasted, so that the center can be filled with a savory, hot filling such as a stew.

  • Crudités

    Another term for fresh or blanched vegetables served in sticks or chunks as a go-with or appetizer.

  • Fondant

    A mixture of sugar and water simmered and reduced to the “soft-ball” stag. Poured fondant is used to fill candies. Hard fondant usually has gelatin or marshmallow added, and can be rolled out to use as the middle layer of sandwich cookies; or used to cover and decorate a cake.

  • Frappé

    Semi-frozen.  Still liquid but thick with ice particles.

  • Fricassee

    Stew made with meat that has not first been browned.

  • Glacé

    Glazed or covered with icing. Refers to the shiny surface glazed dishes or food items have.

  • Hors d’oeuvres

    Fancy appetizer served at the start of your meal.

  • Julienne

    Raw vegetables such as carrots and celery that have been chopped into fine “matchsticks”.

  • Meuniere

    Flouring fish or meat and sautéing it in butter.

  • Mirepoix

    Chopped onion, carrot and celery mixture.

  • Roux

    Butter and flour cooked over low heat together to form a thickening agent.

  • Velouté

    Stock mixed into a roux. Can stand alone, or act as the base for other sauces and gravies.

  • Vinaigrette

    Dressing made from oil and vinegar, with added seasonings.

  • Vol au vent

    Cylinder of puff pastry no more than 2” high, filled with savory fillings. Before serving, remove the “lid” from the center of your vol au vent, fill and replace “lid” if desired.

Italian Cooking Terms

  • Al dente

    Refers to pasta. Firm “to the tooth”; not soft. But there should be no hard center.

  • Al forno

    Literally “to the oven”. Cooked in an oven.

  • Florentine

    Usually signifies a dish cooked with spinach.

  • Gremolata

    Fresh parsley, garlic and lemon zest added at the end of cooking to stews.

  • Zabaglione

    Also known as “Sabayon” (French). Custard made with egg yolks and sweet wine.

German Cooking Terms

  • Zwieback

    Twice-toasted bread.